CBP Artist Q&A: Aaron De La Cruz

A hybrid of illustration, pseudo-typography, design and street art, Aaron De La Cruz’s work is at once organic in nature and almost mechanically symmetrical. At a glance, these intricate, large-scale creations subtly evoke ancient Aztec design style with a Keith Haring-esque twist; they are mesmerizing and modern in their deftly wrought, maze-like qualities. The quickly rising West Coast artist has been up to big things this year, with more on the horizon. We had the pleasure of meeting De La Cruz at Art Basel Miami this winter and recently followed up with him to see what he’s been up to. The week, we chatted with the artist about his inspirations, his collaborations with Diesel spin-off 55DSL, Birkenstock and Arkitip as well as some exciting upcoming projects.

You started out as a graffiti artist. How did you make the transition into the fine art world?

I guess it happened by curiosity. While taking my first art class at city college (before art school), I was invited to participate in a group show back in 1999. That show opened a whole new world that I had no idea existed. I knew people went to museums to see artwork but never knew that people attended art shows. After that first show I was kind of hooked to create more work in a gallery setting.


Do you plan your works or do you just create organically?

Most of the black and white work I create is organic but I am slowly moving toward bodies of work that consist of planned out executions. The planned out projects are usually commissions, and now that I am working in different mediums aside form ink and paint, I have to work with others to help complete the fabrication of the piece which takes much more planning and communication on my end. But for the most part, all the designs I create are created organically and that is a process that I intend to keep as long as I can. Its really therapeutic and means a lot to me personally.


What are some of your key inspirations for the work you create?

Inspirations for my work comes from my family. I usually dig into the past and work based off of a mood that I can remember being in when a certain event took place. Being able to just look back and remember moments feels really good and I enjoy reliving those moments while creating. Some other inspirations include architecture, furniture, and a nice fresh tag is always refreshing to see.


Can you tell us a little about your recent project with 55DSL?

The project with 55DSL was a project that will always set the bar for a collaboration for me. The project was curated by way of Arkitip. Andrea the founder of 55 had a pair of old Birkenstock sandals that had white paint on them from a prank he did to a friend getting married, where he painted the friend’s house with messages in white paint. After receiving compliments on his sandals he thought why not make some to look like this.

We decided to paint a wall inside the Diesel headquarters and allow the paint from my brush to drip onto the all black sandals. For me this project was great as my dad has been a Birkenstock fan for years and has actually owned the same pair since I was a kid. The fact that this was the first time Birkenstock would release an all black sandal (those that know me know my wardrobe consist of black, always) and the model of the sandal was called “Monterey,” which happens to be the state my family is from in Mexico. It was just one of those things that just felt too right, and the entire project was rooted in family which was perfect.


You were also recently in Hawaii for the annual Pow!Wow! event Can you tell us a little about that experience? 

Pow wow is always a great time. I have been attending since the first one in 2010 and I always enjoy painting in Hawaii as the community is so involved on so many levels and really go out of their way to show support. I have never had an experience where people bring homemade meals and offer ceremonial prayers to bless the land and wall that you are offering them. It’s just an amazing experience that sticks with you.


What new projects do you have on the horizon?

This year I have a group show, Pow Wow Taiwan, a commission project in Hong Kong and my jewelry project which should be out in the next month or so. I have been traveling quite a bit this year already so it feels nice to be back in the studio and get grounded again.


GOING AROUND from Aaron De La Cruz on Vimeo.

For more information on Aaron De La Cruz visit his website at or follow him on Instagram.